- Review Price: £7466.00
Having a big screen is clearly a key part of making yourself a serious ‘home cinema’ system. After all, we doubt you’d be so keen to spend over a fiver down at your local Odeon if all you got to watch was a tiny picture no bigger than a normal telly. So it’s fair to say that the home cinema credentials of Fujitsu’s P63XHA51ES plasma screen are beyond refute. Why? Because, as its name suggests, it measures in at a really quite breathtaking 63in across.
What’s more, while it’s hardly a mainstream proposition, at £7,500 or so it’s actually reasonably priced for one of the flat TV world’s biggest commercially available screens. Still, mere size and affordability mean nothing if the P63XHA51ES doesn’t have the quality to go with it.
It’s fair to say that Fujitsu isn’t renowned for being particularly domesticated with its approach to plasma screens, often seeming more interested in the business displays market than the home one. But hopes are raised that this may not hold true for the P63XHA51ES by its wearing of a really quite living room friendly design that goes out of its way to make the screen subtle and unobtrusive. Well, as subtle and unobtrusive as a 63in screen is ever going to get, anyway!
Connectivity, though, brings us back down to earth with a thud. Problem one is the absence of any sort of tuner input, revealing that the P63XHA51ES is only a screen, not a fully fledged, tuner-bearing TV. Still, it’s pretty likely that anyone considering coughing up £7.5k on a screen for their home will be intending to attach it to a Sky HD or cable HD service, making the lack of a built-in digital tuner almost irrelevant.
However, this fact merely amplifies problem two: the provision of only a single HDMI socket. This is frankly ludicrously stingy for a screen with so much other home cinema potential, and with Blu-ray, Sky HD, the Sony PS3 and HD DVD all now already out and about or due soon in the UK, it will almost certainly require its likely target audience to stump up for an HDMI switchbox – something that could cost an extra £300 upwards. Madness.
You can at least connect an Xbox 360 in HD at the same time as, say, a Sky HD box, thanks to the screen’s inclusion of a set of component video jacks. But this still amounts to no more than bog-standard HD video provision when all’s said and done.
It’s not all bad news on the connectivity front, as the screen does at least provide a D-Sub PC interface and, slightly bizarrely given the lack of a tuner, two RGB Scarts. But even so, it would be nice if the P63XHA51ES could now try and improve our mood with a few fancy features!
Sadly, it doesn’t. At first glance things look promising, as the screen’s menus look long and busy. But many of the menu options are largely irrelevant to most home cinema users. In fact, the only bits and bobs worth running by you are separate Drive and Signal contrast adjustments, and a decent set of video presets of which Fine is probably your best bet for movie/TV viewing.
Just as well, then, that there is one last home cinema-friendly trick going on behind the P63XHA51ES’s scenes: AVM II processing.
This is the very latest version of Fujitsu’s proprietary Advanced Video Movement processor, and its key achievements are to reduce MPEG decoding and mosquito noise; make edges look crisper; stop edges from ghosting; and make contours less jagged. AVM II has been specially reworked from the previous version, too, so that it can better handle the heavy-duty demands of high definition video. What’s more, it’s ‘motion adaptive’, meaning it can adapt the level of its processing where it detects motion in a picture so as not to put its systems under so much stress that the picture quality breaks down.
With precious little so far to persuade us that the P63XHA51ES takes home cinema especially seriously beyond simply having a big screen, its picture quality comes as something of a revelation.
The first thing to catch our eager eye is how sharp images look with an HD run-through of Serenity on Sky HD, and King Kong via the Xbox 360’s new HD DVD drive. Seeing so much fine detail on show at such a prodigious size produces an immediate sense of drama akin to staring through a (sodding big) window at a real world on the other side. Especially as the detailing is joined by the removal of just about all traces of video noise.
The P63XHA51ES also impresses by not falling foul to a couple of common plasma weaknesses: fizzing noise over horizontal motion, and colour striping. In fact, colours are presented with so much finesse and subtlety that at times you feel like you’re watching a screen with a full HD resolution rather than the 1,366 x 768 pixels the screen actually has.
Contributing still further to what is, ultimately, a sublimely natural picture are some excellent black levels, which succeed in terms of both depth and the amount of subtle greyscale information they manage to portray.
There are only two small criticisms we might level at the P63XHA51ES’s pictures. First, the tone of colours sporadically (usually during darker scenes or standard definition viewing) seems to lose some of its naturalism, taking on vaguely orange or green undertones. Second, it’s possible that in order to achieve its impressive black level talents, the TV has had to sacrifice a touch more vibrancy than some people may feel comfortable with if their living room is quite bright.
With no built-in speakers to test on the P63XHA51ES (those pictured are optional extras), we’ve now got enough on the screen to form some sort of conclusion. And this conclusion is that for all its half-bakedness in terms of connections and video-friendly features, when it comes to the ever-so-slightly important matter of delivering home cinema pictures, it’s actually something of a hero.
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We test every TV we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.
Score in detail
Image Quality 9